I am totally inspired by this courageous post from the Brooklyn Museum today about the shifting focus of their social media and tech engagement of their 1stfans program – a socially networked museum membership.
In itself, 1stfans was a courageous experiment in diversified social media engagement. A membership-only service, the Brooklyn Museum went all-in committing to an intensive curated program of engagement over Twitter, Facebook and Flickr to engage a local and remote community in art. Now, after 2 years of operation, Shelley Bernstein (CTO) writes:
Simply put, the in-person benefits rock—people socialize and meet new friends while attending awesome meetups around museum content. By contrast, the online benefits have not worked as well and when we talked to our far-away supporters informally they indicated they were joining (and continuing to renew) out of general support for the museum, not necessarily to obtain a tangible benefit.
It’s because of this all of this that we are shifting focus to better accommodate the in-person meetup and changing the use of technology to support that goal. At the end of November, we will be discontinuing the use of Twitter, Facebook and Flickr groups for 1stfans and we’ll be moving our online operations to Meetup.com.
Where so many organizations and governments are struggling to get their collective heads around how to use social media tools to engage their communities, often getting completely frozen in the process, the Brooklyn Museum provides a great example of an organization experimenting, while balancing it’s own organizational capacity with the needs of it’s community. I’ll certainly be using it as a great example of strong adaptive leadership in the future.
Adaptive Leadership Brooklyn Style – in 5 parts:
- Experiment: Have the courage to step into the void and experiment publicly with social media and new models of engagement
- Assessment and Feedback: Assess your successes and failures at appropriate milestones. (In this case after 2 years – not after 6 months as the community is still in its infancy, or after 5 years when the systems are completely ingrained) Ask for feedback and talk frankly with your community, then match that feedback with hard data.
- Incorporate Feedback & Focus on Meaningful Experience: Acknowledge successes and accept failures if you are not delivering in specific ways for the community and the organization. Respond to feedback by making tough decisions about organizational capacity, cost benefits, and locality that put meaningful engagement first. eg. Now the Brooklyn may reach fewer people, but will provide a richer and more meaningful experience.
- Acknowledge Sunk Costs and Get Over It: Be honest about the challenges you faced, share the experience with your community, learn from it, and move on.
- Experiment Again!